Monday, December 31, 2007

A New Computer For Me, in Chacala

Bill and Mary arrived today for their third winter visit to Chacala. They were accompanied by their precious dog, Spike/Clavo. As a bi-lingual dog, he responds his name in both languages. They were also accompanied by my new computer. They picked it up in Olympia, and drove it down. Pretty good service. I am really happy.I am all hooked up and on-line from home. But tomorrow I am going to have to figure out how to have both my wonderful neighbor family's new computer plus my computer both hooked up to the internet. Using their Telmex phone line and one modem. And the computers are about 125 feet apart. I think I am going to end up interneting from their laundry palapa, at least for now. But we'll see.Anyway, I am too tired to write. So I am going to download photos from my camera, and go to bed. It's New Years Eve and I have a couple of appealing invitations, but I am tooooo tired. Long long day.My genius son managed to transfer everything from my self-destructed computer to this one, so I am really content and feeling good. Hope everyone else is too.

The photo below is what Chacala's beach (and probably every beach in Mexico) looks like during the week between Christmas and New Years. The two weeks around Palm and Easter Sundays, that is, Semana Santa.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Warm and Lovely Sunny Chacala

If you are interested in textiles in Mexico, take a look at this series of short videos about different textiles and their weavers.

The videos were made by Bob , the man who has spent years and years exploring Mexico and learning about the textiles-weaving of Indio-indigenous groups all over Mexico.
His website is Mexican Textiles.

The weather seems to have turned warm again after about four or five nights in the low low sixties. Looking really beautiful here today. The ocean water has been a little cool, but I bet is will be warmer today.

I used to think I was the only person in Chacala who hates the ugly stuff that´s going up around here. But it turns out other people seem to feel that same way. Local and gringo. People arestarting to be more open with their feelings about some of the changes around here.

My new computer might arrive Monday, or probably Tuesday. Then I have to figure out a new way to be hooked up. I am hoping this new computer has a stronger wireless card, but it´s not likely. I am going to PV tomorrow to look around for a modem-router (?) thingie that might send a stronger wireless signal. Or maybe my son will send one down. We´ll see how this works out I guess.

There was a big quinceneria party at Pelicanos, a restuarant on the beach last night. Really nice, with a great band and nice decorations and delicious cake. My taste and tolerance for music seems to be changing. More open minded I guess.

The beach is much cleaner than last year. Still not clean, but much better. I have the impression more people are taking responsibility for picking up their own and other people´s trash. Pretty neat.

This winter is just zipping by. I was at Nuevo Espana last night for a few minutes. It´s a nice little six unit place with a pool and units with room for six or so people, and decent little kitchens, etc. At the moment if looked liked most of the units were rented by gringos. Nice group of people, mostly Canadians. Some had read this and said nice things. It´s still odd for me to meet people who read thing. It´s kind of fun and kind of embarassing. There´s a teacher here right now who is Irish. He has a beautiful little son, who is wonderful. I am in love with the boy. He told me the ocean was "lovely". I just loved that.

I am off to my place to wait for the Coke truck and cook delicious things.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Day Afternoon Christmas, and All Thru Chacala

I am not really a Christmas person, but Chacala has kind of changed me in that regard.
Yesterday was a really nice day for me. The weather was great. And lots of nice people were arriving to set up camp on the beach. Most people in Mexico, at least in this area, seem to celebrate at home with family on Christmas Eve, and then come down to the beach on Christmas Day or the next day. Town is pretty happy and cheerful and somewhat crowded right now.

I had a lovely Christmas Eve dinner at Aurora´s. Her Mom and Uncle were there too and we laughed and laughed and laughed.

Lots of gringo faces and lots of vendors selling everything you can imagine. I was given some lovely gifts by Dona Lupe and by Marta, and some other local folks. Really nice and things I really like and wanted. I will send photos later.

First thing in the morning, Christmas Day, I took a walk up the hill at the south end of the beach. I was curious about the buildings going up there. I thought there were two but there are three. Kind of perched on the cliff.

There has been a lot of work done up there. Some of it's kind of strange and seems odd to me. Someone has built a huge gate across the road you walk-drive on to get to the volcano meadow and then on to beautiful little beach one cove south of Chacala. Since the road was there way way before that eijido land was sold for development it seems odd that someone would put a huge metal gate up. It was open, but,....... That road is access to the orchards up there and a lot of property.

Plus, someone is building tall and medium height stone walls on either side of the road. The walls block access to the fruit orchards that have been there for a long time. It´s hard to imagine why someone would do that. Fruit orchards, and food production versus vacation homes for rich people? Forget it.

Anyway, got home after visiting with Dona Lupe , made brownies and fruit salad for a dinner at the lovely new home of some Canadians who are now living in Chacala full time. Washed clothes,
took a nap and shower and when up the road to the party my gringo neighbors were putting on.

The food was really really good. I ate much too much and had a very nice time. I had to leave early to meet some new renters staying at a first-time rental. By the time I had finished with that and been hijacked by Marta (to give me my great gift) it was too late to go back to the party.

By the time I got home I was feeling pretty sick again. Mostly it is just a deep chest cold now.
A Dad from Guadalajara and his two early teen sons are staying downstairs this week. Very nice but their dog is a pain. Every time I went to sleep either the dog or the raccoons would show up on my patio. Plus insane barking by the dog. I finally put in my earplugs and feel asleep.

R and M loaned me a great book called "Oaxaca Journal" by Oliver Sacks. I loved it. It was about his ten day trip to Oaxaca with a group searching for Ferns. I really enjoyed it. I am getting to read better quality books these days. Definite lifestyle improvement.

My son is helping me figure out how to have both my and Aurora´s computers work off the same phone line and modem. I am getting excited to be getting my computer back in less that a week. I hope.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Changes in Chacala, This Year

I am trying to think of all the changes that have happened in Chacala this year. At least the changes I know about.

There have been some deaths. The beloved Mother of Laur died just recently. And also Maria-Palia, who died this summer. I miss her. She was the tiny lady who carried heavy loads around town on her head. And was also busy doing something. Often artistic things for Day of the Dead and Guadalupe and San Rafael Day. I am surprised how often I think I see her out of the corner of my eye. But when I look there is no one there. Or it´s someone else. There were several other deaths that I don´t know much about

Two younger men from Las Varas died in a one-car turnover right before the turnoff to Playa Chacala. The turn onto the beach road. There is a small altar/shrine set up in their memory right near where it happened.

There has been an interesting change in who is driving. Ever since I got to Chacala
I have been amazed to see ten year old boys driving pìckups around town. Never girls. Just boys. But times are changing around here. At the first Posada, last week, a sedan filled will little kids was being driven by a local 11 year old girl. She was delivering the kids to the Pinata and treats part of the Posada.

Then, last night and then again this morning I saw Erika, Aurora´s lovely daugther, driving the family pickup somewhere. Her younger sister was riding shotgun. I love seeing girls driving, but it scares me to know how little training they get. But, maybe the younger you start driving the better. I don´t know.

Lots of remodeling has gone on this year. Majahua has a new addition, including office space and a bar with several new terraces. The place next to Beatriz´s, the place next to Sarai´s store, Gracia´s all have projecsts going on. Mar de Jade seems to be building an apartment, a studio space, and an outside area for something. Not sure what. More projects include Pablo`s from Guadalajara´s house below the Bibliotecho, Laura´s three new small rentals (intended as monthly rentals), Angeles two new units, both with kitchens now, and Antonia´s new kitchen addition to her downstairs unit are all ready to rent. The lovely new gringo home right above the hotel is complete now, and a new smaller place is being built by a Guadalajara man next door has the basics up. Three (at least) gringos are building on the hillside above the paved road, and another gringo couple is building behind the new red two story rental, over the water. Oscar and his bride, Adrienna, are starting their new place on the Mirador property, and Berta´s lovely new rental´s rentals are open for business. Lots going on.

The new town water system has been going for about 16 months now. With only a few short downtimes when the well pump was stolen (twice), and various other problems surfaced. Including the Development somehow getting access to Chacala´s water. For their swimming pools and lawns, I guess. Who knows. I love having clean decent water to fill the tinaco with for at least six hours every day. It feels so luxurious.

There seem to be routine patrols by the police now. With so many strangers coming into town on the constructions crews it´s hard for local people to keep track of who should be around and who shouldn´t. The tourists generally stay down on the beach. The level of thievery is lower than last year, when a little den of theives from Las Varas came down to Chacala a couple of times,and got way with stuff. But they were caught quickly. I think there was only one instance of a break-in this year. At a empty gringo home. There may have been something else but I haven´t heard about it. I wouldn´t be surprised if some construction materials have been removed from building sites.......

The entire town keeps getting cleaner and cleaner. Including the beach. The kids are still picking up trash once a week, and posting signs requesting tourists put their trash in the new containers. Seems to be working.

The Bibliotecho now has DSL, so the computers there now run at normal speed, and everyone seems to be happy with that. The Bibliotecho is closed until after New Years. I think it´s so Viki, the Adminstrator, can have a well-deserved vacation.

The Posada has bene lovely this year. Tonight is the last night. The Church has been painted and redecorated. Juanito made some lovely displays for Guadalupe Day and Feliz Navided.

There are two new teachers at the school, and most adults and kids seem to be okay with them. Isaac is running the After-School program again this year and the kids seem to be enthusiastic about him. The Kinder is now on it´s 3rd or 4th teacher already this year. We will see what happens when school starts again on the 7th of January.

The schoolyard around the Primaria and Bibliotecho, looks great. Clean and tidy. At the kinder too. I haven´t been over to the Tele-Secundaria lately, so I don´t know how that looks.

It seems to be a little cooler in the evening and night than other years, but I still am not wearing long plants or a long sleeved shirt. I DO have a blanket on my bed though.

There are a bunch of Christmas Eve eating options around here, and some Christmas Day events too. I am talking about special dinners, etc. When I first came here there were no Christmas lights or trees, but they are all over now.

Anyway. The beach looks great. Clean everyday. Lots of fruit stands, and vendors with good things to eat.

I personally don´t care for Christmas, but it´s fun to watch what goes on around here.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Changing in Chacala

Since I have now being living in Chacala for four years and five days, I thought I should take a look and see if I can notice ways that I am different from when I arrived here in Mexico.

I know one thing is that my level of appreciation for the gift of being alive has increased 10,000 %. Maybe more. I am continually aware of how beautiful each moment is. Of course, there are some annoying moments, usually annoying people, but mostly I love most of every day of this life.

The environment, nature, the surroundings are so lovely and amazing. The plants have to most amazing life force. They just keep growing, no matter what. And the sky is so blue and the sun so bright. And the animals are right here, around us. Every though I am afraid of the Apaches (raccoon looking animals) who visit my patio every night, I appreciate their cleverness and creativity. In getting into my place. And if I wasn´t scared of them I would probably have named the two little guys by now.

There are birds all around. Every morning I see new birds. And right now I am seeing whales swimming by almost every day. And butterflies flitting.

I seem to be in synch with the collectivos these days and never ever have to wait more than a couple of minutes. I have nice worker neighbors staying downstairs. The Dad is very handy at fixing things and the son and a friend are fun to have around. Too bad there´s not enough water for all of us unless I fill the water tank on the roof twice a day. It´s too small.

More weird stuff is going on the with buildings and destroying Nature around Chacala. Plants, trees, vegetable stripped off hillsides, leaving ugly barren messes. Inappropriate buildings. Whatever.

It´s still a lovely place to live, and every day brings new and different things.

I rode into Las Varas this am in the collectivo filled with ladies going to their class at the hospital. I think it´s a menopause class but I am not sure. Everyone was dressed up and bouncing around. We joked around about me going, but I said I was past all that. They thought that was funny.

The driver turned on some dance music and we all bounced around, dancing to the music, while sitting. Very happy and joyful. I love those moments.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Chacala: Days Before Christmas

Well, I thought I had the photo thing licked. A kind soul helped me put the photos from my camera reader card unto two discs. And then I thought I could just put the disc into the slot on a PC and go from there. But I seem to be missing a step.

The internet place on the beach road, "Gabis Internet" opened tonight. I am too tired to write, but I wanted to fool with the photo thing. I think he is going to be open thru New Years. Hoorah!!!

A new Blogger friend, Steve, just started his Blog. He is writing about his search for a place to retire in Mexico. I like how carefully he is looking around and checking out his options. Nice photos too. Steve in Mexico
I put the Link on my Links list too.

Lots of folks from other years are showing up in Chacala this week. It is pretty fun (I can t find the apostrophe key on this keyboard) although I don t actually do that much visiting. I seem to be really busy right now. Partly because of needing to go somewhere to internet. For reservations, etc.

Tomorrow I am going down to the nursery to get a plant for my first landlady s birthday. She told exactly what she wants, an Ixora with big bright red blossoms. I hope they have one.

I bought a slingshot today to scare off my night visitors. I guess they are Ma.....shoot, can t remember the name. I am going to collect pebbles to shoot at them. I hope that s not too mean, but I hate them hanging around sticking their noses in everything. They can t find any food but they search very diligently. Ugh!!!

I read in the PV news that the airport in PV is expecting 220 flights to arrive on Saturday. That is alot of flights for that little airport. Probably people should use the bathroom on their plane before they get off the plane. I imagine there will be a big back up in baggage and customs. Probably not very many people will get the red light at customs (to be inspected).

They are still remodeling, putting in a new tile floor in the arrival area. So you still have to go outside and then back in to get to the bathrooms, ATMs, etc. The money changers are still open in the arrival area.

I am too tired to write.

Chacala Days before Christmas

Monday, December 17, 2007

Lovely Chacala

It´s been beautiful in Chacala this week. Cooler at night though. About 62F degrees. Beautiful sunny days. More visitors turning up. The camping area still has mostly smaller RV´s parking there. Mexican families are starting to pull in to camp for the Christmas holidays. The cuesto owners are spiffing up their places, in preparation for the many families that will be arriving starting this coming weekend.

Well, the festivities for Guadalupe ended on the 12th, and now we have begun the nightly Posadas, marking Jesus and Mary´s search for a place for themselves and their about-to-be born baby. I can´t believe I wrote that like it really happened.

Anyway, last night was the first night, and about 33 kids and 20 adults participated.
They walked from the church to Paul and Nidia´s place. They had two lovely pinatas, filled with treats, and then treat bags for everyone. Even me. And hot chocolate and chocolate cake. I love the hot chocolate in Mexico. It´s so good. I passed my goodie bag onto a late comer so I wasn´t so tempted.

I don´t know where we are walking to today, but I hope they serve hot chocolate.

There seem to be more yachts here this year. And earlier too. I mean the sailing kind. There are also more powerboats. One is totaly covered with antennas. Not quite as ugly as the shrimp boats, but almost.

Chavela is serving dinners to the first 20 people to sign up each Thursday and Friday night. 50 pesos, bring your own drinks. Very delicious and very popular. She is the breakfast cook at the gringa cafe in the morning. I think she will be adding sign-up nights as more visitors show up.
She also takes group reservations where the group picks the menu. On the sign-up nights Chavela choose the menu. Ahead of time, so you will know what you will be getting.

Majahua has finished remodeling. They had the thank you party for their workers on Saturday night. The addition is a bar with three patios, and a lovely upstairs terrace with offices for Jose and Carmen. The kitchen area has also been expanded. This is a lovely place, the only really special restaurant in Chacala. Reservations are needed for dinner, but drinks are available all the time. It´s a great place to watch the sunset, or for whales. You can also eat breakfast and lunch there, but it´s a good idea to plan ahead, or call 219-4054. Mahajua is at the very end of the beach, and up about 20 feet. Just past Mar de Jade´s patio.

People are seeing whales everyday now. From the beach or patios or whatever. Or via boat rides out closer. Not too close, but closer.

Can´t think of anything else to write, right now. My new computer is apparently on it´s way south. I can´t wait. It´s hard to write in internet places, especially after having had a couple of months of internet connection at home.

Still am not able to post photos, but I am taking some pretty good ones.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Not in the Blogging Mood in Chacala

I want to thank the people who offered me suggestions about posting photos. I am going to do it next time I am at a computer place. Maybe Sunday.
I really appreciate the help.

The weather is wonderful here and I am working alot on my ¨garden¨"
Waiting for my computer.
Not much in the mood for writing.

Lots of nice visistors in Chacala.

I just can´t get in the mood to write. I just spent a couple hours answering emails, mostly about rentals, and I just want to go back to Chacala and eat lunch.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Still No Computer in Chacala

It looks like I have a new computer, currently residing near Seattle. I was hoping I would think of someone I know who is coming down to Chacala or P.V. this week or next, but haven´t found anyone yet.

On Saturday some friends are leaving the NW and driving south. And they will be bringing my new computer down, arriving Jan 1 or so. I hope I can manage my addiction til then.

And I want to learn how to post photos from my camera to a PC. RIGHT NOW. I am so used to Mac stuff I can´t even think of how to do that.

The weather is great. Slightly cooler nights, 68-70F at night, 80-85F during the day. Low humidity, at least for Chacala.

I think I must be completely acclimated to the weather in Chacala. The first three summers I thought the ocean was too warm (like a bathtub) to swim in during the summer. But this summer I loved it and swam almost every evening. But now the December water water seems a little cool to me. But of course it´s not at all. And now I understand why little kids are all bundled up when it´s under 70F - it does feel cool. Whatever.

There are some great RVers here this year. Just when I was getting really jaded about them as a group. Prejudiced, I guess. But A and G brought lots of stuff down for the Kinder and Bibliotecha, and really would like to find a little role here. Maybe support a child a little. They are here for awhile, so they will have time to get to know some families.

Plus G is an excellent camera instructor. He has a Canon that is a lot like mine and I am learning so much. Stuff I didn´t even know there was to learn.

So far that gringo campers are almost all in small rigs- pickup campers, small van campers and so on. I like how they look in the campground. Don´t block the view so much. Of course some of them are still trying to block off access to the beach for the Mexican families who normally camp where the RVers. But I am enjoying getting to know some of these folks. V and V are another couple who travel with a nice basic small trailer and older pickup. Suits my personal taste-lifestyle I guess.

Two more businesses are being set up by gringos in Chacala. In both cases the businesses appear to be in direct competition with local people. Whatever.

A and G and I took the school, craft, and clothes and other things up to the Kinder and the after-school program at the Bibliotecha yesterday. There is a new teacher at the Kinder. Ramon. Very young and handsome. He seem to be in charge and the kids were great. We took photos of the all the supplies G and A brought. The Kinder looks wondeful. bursting with art and color.

Isaac is still teaching at the Bibliotecho after-school program, from last year. The kids really seem to like him and to respect his authority. Lots of kids running around. More photos. We also left some gifts and other things for Viki, the Biblioteca adminstrator to use as she see fit.

It seems clear that Chacala in general is moving into a more prosperous era. Who knows where that will lead.

Waited for 45 minutes at the bank yesterday, to change a US$100 bill into pesos. Then the teller told me it was 10 minutes too late to change money. RATSSS!!!!!

Then Juan at the tienda did it for me on the way home. So it worked out. Plus I got to gossip with a couple of women I know, who were also standing in line.

There seems to be even visual pollution littering the Chacala landscape. Grihgo real estate and development signs. Ugh Ugh Ugh.

Other than the signs, etc. Chacala is looking beautiful, Blue skies, whales swimming by in the blue-green ocean, lovely breezes, and sand covering the rocks again, on the south end of the beach. Lots of new gringo faces around, and some old familiar ones too.

In the past there was very little construction during the actual tourist season. But that started changing last year. There are a number of projects that are still being worked on right now. I think of the winter season starting about December 21. And maybe they will be finished up by then.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Funeral for My Mac, in Chacala

My trusty little Mac G4 laptop gave up the ghost on Wednesday night.

But meanwhile I am using public computers and it´s hard to write surrounded by various computer games playing at high volume.

And I haven´t figured out how to move photos from my camera to a public computer.

But I am working on it.

My son already found a computer for me.

The trick is getting it to Mexico.

Even if you use the very expensive Fed-ex, DHL, UPS options for shipping, sending a laptop to Mexico is hard.

You are allowed one laptop in with no duty, but the shipping companies send any pack fatter than paper to Mexican customs, where they like to add a 40% duty. Or the computer somehow getd lost or misplaced by the shipping company. So most people have a friend bring a computer down.

A friend is taking my old one up to my son, in Olympia WA. He expects to be able to get my photos and some other stuff off the old computer and onto the new one. And then some other , really really wonderful friends are bringing the new one down, driving. But they won´t arrive untl January 1. More that 3 WEEKS. Ugh.

I am half suffering withdrawal symptoms from n internet, and half feeling free and at loose ends. So it´s probably a good thing to have this involuntary break from in-house computer access.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

View From Chacala's Malecon

There are quite a few people coming down to Chacala from the cold, cold north. It's been in the mid 80`sF all day, with about 62% humidity. It looked like it was going to rain late this afternoon. Which would be very unusual this time of year. But the clouds seem to have moved on.
These photos are taken from the beach walkway, the Malecon (below).

Some of the construction is about 2 years old, and the other is newer. There were as many as 12 yachts, a couple of power boats (one super-sized), and as many as six shrimp boats here this week.
And Berta told me she will be managing the Cafe whatever onto top of the old Casa Pacifica this winter. She plans to open on Monday, December 10th. The Breakfast-only cafe will be open 8-10am, M-Sat. Closed Sunday. It's located at the very north end of Chacala, about a block past where the paved road bumps into the gated to the gated development.
Las Brisas just put up Christmas decorations. They seem to be planning to put on a Christmas Day Dinner again this year.
Majahua's remodeling looks really nice. Worth walking down there for a drink or to make a dinner reservation.

There this still quite a bit of construction going on around town. Lots of half-finished projects.

The primary school yard is looks very clean and tidy. Consistently. Parents are cleaning the grounds, with some of the kids, regularly.The Kindergarten play ground is looking very nice and tidy.

And every Sunday morning Viki, the Adminstrator at the Bibliotecha, is out with big group of kids. They are all carrying big black plastic bags, and picking up plastic and other trash.The trash is mostly left behind from visitors to Chacala and to the gated development.

Work is continuing on Om's place among the stone column's above the dinghy beach.
Guadalupe's Day is coming up soon. A few fireworks are going off every night about 6pm, followed by the bells and a church service.

The ocean water feels wonderful. I went swimming this afternoon, and the water was very clean and lovely.

That's it from Chacala.

Monday, December 03, 2007

RV's Parking at Playa Chacala

My guess is the some people who read this are aware of my disgust with black (toilet) water being poured into holes in the sand on the beach at Chacala. By RVers.That situation seems to be resolving itself. The disposal pit-tank-vault (don't know these things are called) next to Delphin's has been rebuilt and looks great. People can either move their rigs over there to empty their holding tanks. Or use one of those "blue-boy units" to empty their toilet holding tanks and haul the effluent over to the disposal area. I heard someone yesterday offering to share his with folks who don't have one.Of course, like all the septic tanks around rural Mexico, the effluent that will be pumped out to the septic tank, is dumped off from some road somewhere, into the jungle. But that's probably better than more "civilized" options. It disappears quickly in this climate.

Anyway. I haven't seen any RV's this year draining their toilets in the sand. But the big RV's are just starting to pull in. So who knows? Those are the folks that seem to be the most likely to use that method of disposal.Also, this year, lots of people with rigs on the beach have mentioned to me that they are not using the "polluting the beach" method of emptying their tanks. That is, dumping their shit in the sand.

And I have heard some very interesting stories the past few days from some of these campers. Telling me about gringos in other campgrounds sort of enforcing decent standards among their own in these "RV Parks."Right now almost all the people who are camping in Chacala in metal boxes of various kinds have smaller trailers pulled by trucks or smaller-sized camper vans. It looks much nicer on the beach than the monster RV's that block everyones view of the beach.

Anyway. Cambio, cambio, combio. Change, change, change. Sometimes it's a good thing.
This huge power boat pulled in yesterday, and left, thank god, this morning. It dwarfed the sailboats around itAt the same time it left, six huge shrimp boats arrived. To dump their load into refrigerated trucks, I think.The dead fish photos were taken at dawn, a couple days after the first shrimp boats of the season pulled into Chacala bay. I don't know what the connection is, but there is one. Shrimp boats = dead fish on the beach. Luckily the dogs and other varmints clean things up quickly. '

Still. I hate to see those boats arrive here. They destroy the fish beds when they drag their nets across the ocean floor. Forever. Shrimp lovers take note. I guess I will always be complaining about something.

Middle Class in Mexico, Not in Chacala

If you would like to (possibly) expand you perceptions of lifestyles in Mexico, take at look at this website:

and the post: "Lunch with Anamaria"

Very interesting, at least to me.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Messages for Chacala

Four times now I have received e-mails from someone who either used to live in Chacala, or whose family still lives in Chacala.The first time, a few years ago, Lupe found this blog on the internet. She lives in California. Her husband grew up here, in Chacala, and his Dad is living here now. She and her family had visited here that summer. When she got back to California, she googled "Chacala" and found this, and wrote me.We have been writing off and on ever since. She asked me to take photos of her father-in-law, which I have done. And she has emailed me photos of her wonderful family. I put them on a CD and have them printed up. To pass onto her father-in-law. He has the photos stuck up in his house. Including copies of the photos I took of him.

The next time, the adult son of someone who lives here in Chacala wrote me, also from California. He lived here as a child, and asked if I could take some photos of his Dad and some of his friends here. He also googled "Chacala". And I did.And a few days ago, a woman who lives in Tiajuana, wrote. She also found this blog googling Chacala". She doesn't speak or write English. She sent me a "Comment", but with no email address. So I wrote her a post asking me to write via email. Which she did. She said she left here 19 years ago, or that she IS 19. And told me who her family is. And, of course, they are people I know. She asked me to say hello and offer them hugs and kisses.And another person wrote. I can't remember which family he is from, but the members of his family were not happy to hear from him, so I never wrote back.

And I don't know if this will be good news or bad news for this family, but I will find out tomorrow probably.Another odd use of the internet and blogging. It's feels sort of funny, and a little strange to be an interet email delivery person. But the day I handed over photos of his son, and his sweet looking family, to Lupe's father-in-law, he was so full of smiles. I was really really nice for me.

Version 3: On the Issue of Encouraging Visits to Chacala

Someone wrote me a "Comment", asking why I would provide a link to the CBC "Dispatches" episode about Chacala's Techos de Mexico program. The writer was concerned about too many visitors coming to Chacala. I share that concern too.

However, I am interested in encouraging short-term visitors to come to Chacala. To rent a place to stay, eat at restaurants, buy food and other items, and to enjoy the various tourist activities. Like spa treatments, boat rides, surfing, fising, visits to surrounding towns, to the petrogylphs, and to La Tovara, the swamp ride. And especially to swim in the lovely ocean and lie around on the beach. To bring income to the residents of Chacala. The local people who live and work here.

My short response to that Comment is that I hope the radio program will draw people who are, in my opinion, the ideal visitors to Chacala: the short-timers and the renters. These are people who can spend time in here without having the urge to destroy Chacala with real estate schemes. And who don't have time to start destroying the environment, breaking the laws of Mexico, or constructing ugly buildings, or block access to the beach. And hopefully, they wouldn't intentionally subject Chacala citizens to disrespect, in all it's forms.

My point of view is that IF any kind tourism is okay (and I hope it is_, then short-stay (a week to several months) visits by people who are renting from local Chacala people, is probably the least destructive kind of tourism. They leave it to local people to make money via real estate. Mostly those visitors don't bring jet skis, motos, Hummers, or build monster houses. Or hire giant machines to tear the land apart, or giant trucks speed up and down the road 15 hours a day. Or build homes that are inappropriate for the climate, and have air conditioning, clothes dryers, swimming pools and other energy and resource wasting objects.

Vistors who rent, rather than buy and/or build, or "develop" property here, bring some money to Chacala, and often some generosity for the scholarship program, and in the past, a lot of volunteer labor. And a curiosity about the natural environment, and the culture, and local history of this area.

Tourists who stay for a week or a month, or even long-term, generally don't try or aren't successful at trying to impose their values, ideas or culture on local people. And they don't have the power to insist things be done the gringo way.

It's my experience that most short-term visitors to Chacala bring cash and a spirit of curiosity and respect. And, I, personally think that's okay. They offer cash to local residents for access to their rentals, restaurants, stores, and tourist services. Particularly when the places they stay are owned by local Mexicans. As opposed to gringos and non-local Mexicans competing with local landladies for the tourist dollar with big advertising campaigns and so on.
I didn't particularly like it that the LA Times writer showed up in Chacala one day last Winter. But I took around to the Techos de Mexico units, and to meet local landladies. I wanted to be sure he had a taste of the life of local people in Chacala.

Gringo newspaper publicity is probably a mixed blessing for Chacala. But it is income producing for local people. It certainly increased the requests for reservations, particularly for Techos units, and locally owned places.

But is that article drawing people who are curious about the culture of Mexico, learning a little Spanish, and doing some exploring or bird-watching? My guess is "Probably not".

The kind of people I enjoy meeting in Chacala are people with gentle spirits and inquiring minds. People who will come here open to a new experiences and ready to open their hearts to another culture and another way of life. And people who have an interest in ecology and the natural environment are a plus in my mind.
I hope that offering a link to the "Dispatches" show will catch the attention of people who would have a positive presence in Chacala. That it might draw the kind of people who are trying to be, at the least, a benign presence during their vacation here. And at best, people who want to be involved, or offer scholarship. Or learn Spanish, or a new skill here. Or to bring things for the Kinder kids. Or arrive with curiosity and a desire to learn about life here. And in Mexico.

Of course, swimming and enjoying the incredible beach, the small town environment, and the local residents who welcome them, is worthwhile too.

So, that's where I am at today on the subject of tourism advertising.. Tomorrow, who knows?

Here is the info for the program:
1K Download

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Mexican Textiles Website, not in Chacala

Note: I am sort of embarrassed to post these photos of textiles made commercially for the tourist market . When this post is about handmade, traditional textiles. But it's all I have right now. And they do look colorful, if not authentic.

Last month someone told me about the most amazing website for people who interested in textiles. This website has photos, trip reports, and other written materials about textiles created by persons from indigenous groups all over Mexico. I think most of the photos are of textiles that are being made and used right now. Mostly in the remote villages of where small groups of people continue their lives in their traditional manner.In February, the creator of this wonderful site, Robert Freund, will be in mountains of northern Nayarit, doing more research. I think with the Cora Indians, but maybe he will be working with the Huichols. I don't know. I am hoping to met him, since Chacala is in Nayarit, and he may be coming here briefly to met some some folks who will be visiting here. Here is the link for the website.

Mexican Textiles http://www.mexicantextiles.comI love learning about, or meeting people, who have devoted their lives to doing something they really love. People who just go out and do the work. Not for fame or credit or money, but from their hearts.I think there are people everywhere who have found their work, their special interest early in life. And just jump in and pursue their quest for knowledge and understanding. And sometimes chance they have a chacne share what they know about their often very specialized knowledge. And this seems to be the case with Robert Freund. A woman named Catherine Palmer Finerty, is another example of someone who found a niche for themselves, where they immersed themselves in their quest for understanding and knowledge. She wrote a book I have read several times. "In a Village, Far from Home" is her story of living in a mountain village in the state of Nayarit. What she learned and what she did there. And she started her adventure with the Cora Indians after she reached retirement age. Anyway, I am really excited about this website about textiles. And I hope there are other people out there who are interested in textiles of Mexico too.I don't have any photos related to this topic, but I am going to the tianguis today, and maybe I will find some things to photograph. No textiles like on the Mexican Textiles website, but the best I can do right now.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Building a Just and Sustainable Chacala?

I just read an article in a magazine-in-English called " YES!". It's subtitled "Building a Just and Sustainable World. I only run into to this magazine occasionally, and I don't remember how this issue (Fall, 2007) came my way.But it's an interesting magazine. One of the articles is called "Five Ways to Get Free". Free as in "...making lifestyle choices that protect the environment, reduce global injustice, reflect social responsibility, and contribute to richer communities.....". To live in the world with out destroying it. To live in manner that can be sustained for more than the next 30 years.Here are the author's five ideas about how to attempt to live sustainably. (edited by me):

Reduce Fuel consumption: use the bus
Avoid "fashion" and clothes made in sweat shops: buy used and mend
Buy locally grown or made foods: buy in farmers and locally-owned markets
Money: Barter, share and trade goods (stay out of the money economy)
Entertainment: make music, tell stories, play games, visit, talk with each other
I think these ideas sound very much like my life in Chacala.
I take the bus, taxis, collectivos, and very occasionally (monthly?) ride in the back of pickups and in the front seat sometimes. Since I am an old person.

The new clothing I have bought in my four four years are the following items :
  • replacement rubber sandals (and one pair of leather sandals)
  • and three new pairs of boxers and three white cotton tee shirts a year. From the local tianguis
  • And various shade hats, and umbrellas,which I tent to lose, usually by leaving them somewhere or their flying of my head. The combi driver's usually bring them by the next day. It's kind of embarrassing to be so forgetful.
  • Occasionally I buy used cotton, button-front shirts and shorts at the local tianguis. Maybe one of each a year.
  • And I might buy a new pair of long pants at the La Penita tianguis tomorrow. For bus rides (which are often cold with air con) and wandering round as a tourist in cities and visiting churches. One of the two pairs I brought with me to Mexico disintegrated in Oaxaca last summer. A potentially embarrassing event that worked out okay.
And luckily for me, people sometimes bring me cotton button down shirts from thrift shops across the border.I think it's easier to live a simpler life here. For one thing, temptation to consume is easier to ignore. It's a long trip to go on a buying spree. I almost always cook at home. There is only one really tempting restaurant here, and it's out of my price range.

No car. Lots of things to do at home or within a short walk. Lots of visiting back and forth. And helping each other out.My social life is almost entirely visiting and hanging out with friends. A little loteria maybe, or listening to a local group of wandering musicians. Nothing big. But nice. No travelling, paying money except for a drink or coke maybe. Just relaxing, kids running around having fun. No dressing up, unless you want to. Lots of fiestas for varies things. With food, music and games and lots of fun and laughing.

I love how borrowing is done here. Or at least, this is how I experience it. If you know someone has sometime you need some of (band aid, shovel, aspirins. Sharpie pen, etc etc) it's fine to ask for it. Not awkward at all. And the paying back is different. It's not the tit-for-tat kind of borrowing I am used to. Borrow two eggs. Pay back to eggs. Here, you would probably never get the eggs back, but you might get a sack of lemons, a ride to town, help with something. Your dirty clothes my disappear awhile and come back three hours later, all clean and dry and folded. It's much more relaxed and trusting. It's seems like it's the norm to share with family and friends.

I think this way of sharing is part of the same mind-set as "oh-ha-la". Loosely, "as God wills".
You just kind of go with the flow for certain things in life, including the passing around of items.On the other hand, some local people tell me that there's another norm here about not getting to far ahead of the others (materially) in your circle. They have used the analogy of crabs in a bucket, trying to get out. Some make it out by crawling on the backs of their cooperative fellow escapees. But some people say that here, it's more like that if people see you getting far ahead and almost out of the bucket, they will pull you back down. I don't know if that's true or now. But that analogy has been told to me many times, but local folks. Who knows?
One day I am working on the water line at this house. An anonymous person has chopped the hose with a machete again (accidentally). I am bent over, working on it. The neighbor across the way walks over with the fitting I need. I didn't even know he was watching what I was doing. So I watch for some little ways to pay back. And there's always something down the line. But no one seems to be waiting for paybacks. But they do pay-back all the time.

Today I was buying two big trash bags at the tienda. Someone I helped with some photos last week, paid for the bags. I didn't realize what had happened for a minute. The guy at the cash register kept waving me away when tried to pay. Then he pointed to Juan, and said had paid. So I thanked Juan. Pretty nice. Sharing happens all the time around here. Many people are generous and kind, and they don't understand, or seem to be surprised when they see how possessive some people are about their possessions.

Of course, I may be totally misreading the whole culture of Chacala on this issue. And I have to remind myself that this is mostly a poor town moving out of poverty into lower class Mexico. And other classes have different mores and attitudes. About which I know next to nothing.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

CBC Radio Show about Chacala and other News Bulletins

Today's weather in Chacala seems to have varied from low of 77 to a high of 89 degrees F.
The humidity apparently stayed between 92 whatevers to 55 whatevers. I don't have a clue about humidity.

After I am fluent in Spanish I will start in on the concept of measuring humidity. Maybe, if I still care, in the year 2013.Under the guise of educating the public, today I am offering a variety of news tips.
A big wrestling show, never one of my favorite events, is arriving in Las Varas next week. Luckily for those of us in Chacala, the show is being heavily advertised all around town.The boy in the middle proudly told me that the father of the little girl is the star in the middle of the poster. They didn't know how much the shows costs, which is fine because I already have plans for that night.
And here is the real news. Marjorie Greaves, a Public Television producer on Vancouver Island spent part of her vacation in Chacala last winter creating a program for the CBC "Dispatches" radio program.The focus of the show is the Techos de Mexico program here in Chacala. It's a program offering interest-free loans to families who want to build a combination home and rental units structure on their property.I won't talk about it because the radio show describes it well.
Here is the intro

Making Ends Meet in MexicoLinkIn Mexico, the difference between poverty and prosperity is sometimes just a place to call your own.

It certainly was for Aurora Hernandez and her family.

In their coastal village, a Godfather and a modest guest house changed their lives forever, as we hear now from journalist Marjorie Greaves.

And the link

And then click on blue highlighted line "Listen to Part two in Real Audio".
You can see photos and make reservations thru Chacala Vacation Rentals

The 8 minute recording includes interviews with Jose Enrique de Valle, the creator of the program, and home and rental owners Aurora, Beto, and Leti .